Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Secret of Peace

The other day a friend discussed the fulfillment of life with me.  He had a couple of good pointers to raise like....Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. He pointed out that God has said,  “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)    

His point was that contentment lies not in what is mine but in whose I am. "When I come into a relationship with God through his Son, Jesus Christ, I understand whose I am and what I have." he said. "Envy causes one to look horizontally--at what others have--so we are never satisfied. We pursue the god of money, thinking of what it can buy us. Contentment invites us to look vertically--at God. When we look in his direction, we know that he is enough."

It became clear to us that contentment is the secret of inward peace. It recalls the bare truth that we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it, including our money. Life, in fact, is a journey from one moment of vulnerability to another. So we should travel light and live simply. The reality for most people is that we have enough--whatever enough is. We would be well advised to be content with what we have. 

Being content with less stuff and not envying those with a lot is a process that will take more than a quick prayer or reading a book or hearing a sermon. It will require a dependence and satisfaction in God. He knows what is best and what is needed in our lives. We must trust him and not money.

Too often we take our eyes off God and put them on earthly pursuits, with money most often at the top of our lists. Money has an incredible power, much like a magnet and more like a god than most of us are willing to admit, to draw us away from those things that are eternal and life-filling.

Always be on your guard with money. As the writer of Hebrews stated, “Don’t love money.” The heart can only love one thing at a time. When we choose to love God, we will discover the marvelous benefit of contentment. And, more importantly, we will learn that money can never satisfy the heart. Keep your focus, therefore, on God. He is enough.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To all my fathers, here and gone!

It was a beautiful sunny morning today and as I surfaced from helping to organise a fund-raising dinner the previous nite for nearly 90 people (ending in the early hours of today)  I was welcomed by Father's Day cards from my family. It was a good start to the day realising that despite the everyday stresses of normal family life, you are, after all, appreciated, that you are always considered to be loving and giving....and needed both in the good and the bad times too!

I particularly enjoyed reading some of the cards...learning that I try to bring laughter and happiness to family life.  And that I do my best to keep them from disappointment and strife...especially appreciated since they both are getting married in the coming year. I thought of the years still to come when they would have their own families and they would be doing the same the impression that nothing's too much trouble for their own families. When they'd probably move heaven and earth to fulfil their loved ones' dreams. 

It took me back to my young days when I fooled around with my own father, often messing up his office case or filling it with every imaginable scrap of torn paper I could find....and, unaware of my prank, he opened his case in front of a client!!  Can you imagine his face - a senior bank manager - in that awkward situation?  But he took it in his stride.  As always.  There were many other similar pranks on my part (like when I loaded his  cigarettes with matchstick heads and it "exploded" on lighting up - a bit dangerous by today's standards!!) but he smiled them away perhaps wondering what I'd be up to next. 

Those days have now long he has too, some 20 years ago. He'd be about 95 today if he were still around. Yet I met an old colleague of his the other week while visiting an old people's home ...still going strong despite his age...and with a memory as fresh as ever.  He even recognised me straight away, without any need of introduction, fully remembering the little naughty kid who is now in his Sixties!  

Yet today I also remembered all the other fathers in my start with the many priests I know who though not having a direct family of their own have larger, more extended families to whom they minister pastorally.   We could call these my spiritual fathers...there were, and are, many, because I was originally brought up with the Jesuits under the strict regime of the time (that was called an educational system). Today there are others from across the Christian world whom I have met and still meet regularly.  Above all there is my Divine Heavenly Father who always  surprises me every day with His attention to me. 

The other week, while travelling, I realised what a great love affair there is going on between us.  He loves me beyond any inconceivable boundary while, in my finiteness, I can only reciprocate in such a small way.  He has all the time in the universe for me and my problems, and he is there with me every minute of the day and night as I struggle with my work, my responsibilities, my problems.  Yet, He does the same with everyone else in the world.  He is a very personal God, jealous of His flock that he will protect beyond our imagination. Do you know anyone else who is prepared to do this to you?  Even die for you?  I don't. 

This love affair may sound strange for a man to admit to having with God, who's image is usually of the masculine gender, Our Father, yet there's nothing untoward because God does not have these boundaries....He is our Great Father in Heaven who only wants to have us with Him...and to be given the chance to spend eternity with us.   That's why I love Him...and the family He has given me.  As a father He has given me the right to be a bit like Him, to create human life for Him, in His image and likeness, so He can have another life to love and an abode to live in.  What a great God we have. Can you not love Him and His ways?     

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A bit of spicy writing....

The woman said: "My perfume filled the air with fragrance. My lover has the scent of myrhh as he lies upon my breasts…I am weak with passion.  His left hand is under my head and his right hand caresses me". 

"My darling come with me", the man replied. "You are like a dove that hides in the crevice of a rock… beautiful you are!  …Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon…your cheeks glow…the taste of honey is on your lips, your tongue is milk and honey to me".

She said: "My lover is handsome and strong, he is one in ten thousand. …his mouth is sweet to kiss; everything about him enchants me.  This is what my love is like".

"What a magnificent young woman you are!" said the man. "The curve of your thighs is like the work of an artist… complete the delights of your love. You are a graceful as a palm tree (and) I will climb the palm tree and pick its fruit.  To me your breasts  are like bunches of grapes, your breath like the fragrance of apples, and your mouth like the finest wine".  

Dare you guess where that piece of spicy writing is taken from?  (And no, it's not Kama Sutra!)

It is, of course, a very abridged conversation between two lovers, describing themselves, their feelings and their relationship. And it’s easily available to everyone because it’s in the Bible, daring as it might sound! It’s from “The Song of Songs”, a short poem attributed to Solomon but generally known to have another unknown author.  And because it is so openly written it is not popularly known though not suppressed by both Christian or Jewish religions (though to be precise, Christianity tends to generally circumvent it in its liturgy). 

Yet it is a very interesting piece of literature with a strong spiritual background. In the two-abovementioned monotheistic religions, The “Song” is considered to be a description of God’s relationship with man.  Christians take it a step further by describing it as Christ’s relationship with His Church. The kissing of the lips in the above extract, for example, is a clear reference to God’s breath on man, giving life to humanity. The concept is that if you are in love (with God) then you are at peace.  And beauty is not to be seen only as an outwardly aesthetic thing but as a true reflection of the beauty inside.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The miracle searchers?

The other day I posed you with a question on whether you pray to your God or not.  I suppose that whether we realise it or not most of us think that God does answer us when we pray to Him….possibly not in the way we expect. I can say that when I did pray to Him many times to show Himself to me He probably did so in ways I was not ready to see him in.

I have come to realise that He often shows Himself physically through other people.  When I least expect Him to be around.As say in the person of a nuisance neighbour or someone I wouldn't like to be seen in company with. If I believe that God has made me in His image and likeness then I tell myself that I must also be prepared to see others in the same light, because they too have been made in His image and likeness. But how difficult that is to act on. Probably the world would be a much better place if we really believed in it.  The problem is that sometimes my mind won't allow me to get accustomed to my neighbour’s whims and character and I still find myself about to lose my cool, as they say. Will I then be sending Jesus packing too in the process?

But does God actually show himself to us? Does He ever allow us to have a glimpse of Himself or is that only reserved for the very saintly?  I can say though that recently when I was working with the sick and handicapped in the baths in Lourdes, France, I felt very strongly that He had physically shown Himself to me.

The Last Word?

Make yourself at home here, come back and read some of the older cappuccino posts too, relax, reflect.... and comment if you wish....there's a comment button at the end of each post!
I hope to see you again in a few days time. Enjoy.